J.X Mason’s Blog Post of 1-17-22

I just finished reading The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.  I generally don’t care for “self-improvement books,” but this one is very well written, short, and easy to read.  (The War of Art was published in 2012.)

The book tells a writer like me how to avoid battles with “writers block” – those depressing times when I can’t motivate myself to work.  Pressfield calls these “blocks” Resistance.  Resistance comes in many disguises, including distraction and interruption.  But the classic form of Resistance is procrastination.  

The title of Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, is a play on Sun Tzu’s classic, The Art of War, which was written in China sometime in the 6th century B.C.

The key to conquering Resistance, Pressfield says, is simply to park your butt in a chair facing your work – your notepad, your word processor, your latest draft.  Then, start doing something useful – make notes, rewrite a sentence, do a spell check, whatever comes to mind.  Put things down on paper for four hours a day.  If you’re in a groove, you could go for six hours. Maybe take a short break in the middle for some food or exercise.

After your four to six hours, you are done for the day! Then cease work.  Four to six hours is a good day’s work for someone who is marshaling and deploying creative intensity!  Don’t look back to see how you did because that would be more work!  Save lookbacks and revisions for the next day’s work.  

Of course, writing is just a form of Continuing Creation.  Other forms include stone masonry, planting a garden, sticking to a healthier diet, inventing a better solar panel, and preparing a friend’s tax return (building your relationship).  Anyone, really, who does useful work is an Agent of Continuing Creation!

And don’t forget to keep a pad or some index cards in your shirt pocket and by your bed, so you can capture your good ideas when they first come to you, which is often at odd moments.

— J.X Mason